The Yoga and Variety of Practices
Yoga is meditative, (mind-body) movement practice that first made its way to Europe and the United States from Asia (mostly India) around the mid-1800s. It didn’t really start gaining much popularity until about the 1960s and 70s here, though. Because it involves both movement and controlled breathing and focus, many of the benefits of yoga are similar to those of tai chi or martial arts.
Dozens of influential teachers throughout history have shaped yoga. Many actually created their own unique schools of yoga and started lineages which continue to attract millions of devoted followers. Yoga’s roots go back to ancient India, although the practice itself is not religious in nature. Today, the most popular schools of yoga include Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Bikram (also known as hot yoga) and Iyengar. All of these types of yoga stem from a form of yoga called Hatha. And each has their own set of unique core principles, teaching styles, methodologies and physical benefits.
A set of physical exercises (known as asanas or postures), and sequences of asanas, designed to align your skin, muscles, and bones. The postures are also designed to open the many channels of the body - especially the main channel, the spine - so that energy can flow freely. Compared to other popular forms of “exercise,” yoga is more holistic in nature because it combines physical movement with controlled breathing techniques. In yoga, the postures are known as asanas. The regulation of breath is referred to as pranayama. Together, these unite to bring great meditative focus and aspects of relaxation.This are exactly why yoga devotees report benefits of yoga including both improvements in physical musculoskeletal conditions and mental health.
Benefits of Yoga Practices:
- Decreased stress and anxiety
- Fewer depression symptoms
- Better balance and flexibility
- Improved sleep quality
- Increased immunity due to stimulating the lymphatic system
- Detoxification through helping rid the body of toxins and heavy metals
- Increased strength and stamina
- Improved blood flow
- Better digestive functioning, including reduced symptoms of IBS
- Reductions in symptoms associated with pregnancy and postpartum depression
- Less chronic pain, including those caused by musculoskeletal problems like lower back pain, or from frequent headaches
- Better body acceptance and reduced body image disorder symptoms
There are big investments in uncovering and proving even more yoga benefits. Large, government-funded studies are currently underway researching the benefits of yoga for: diabetes risk, HIV and low immune function, arthritis, menopausal symptoms, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, addictions and smoking cessation.